Off the Clock: Cyclist Takes to the Road for Cancer Research

Posted: October 28, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryan Effgen

Steve Klein, coordinator of the Communication Department’s minor in electronic journalism, is a veteran sportswriter who can report on athletics from firsthand experience. An avid cyclist, Klein joined about 1,000 cyclists on Oct. 18 in a 40-mile ride through Washington, D.C., on the homestretch of the Tour of Hope, a cross-country benefit ride for cancer research.

The Tour of Hope, a team of 26 cyclists led by Lance Armstrong, departed from Los Angeles on Oct. 11 and was met in Washington by local cyclists and fundraisers. To participate, each local rider had to raise $500 for cancer research. Unaccustomed to seeking contributions, Klein humbly put out the word. The response was overwhelming, and he tripled the required funds. During the ride, Klein carried with him his list of sponsors, many of whom are battling with cancer. “They’re fighting for their lives; I’m just riding a bike,” he says. “They’re heroes. To be riding a bike in their name is an honor. I was humbled by their support.”

Steve Klein
Steve Klein (far right)

Klein holds Armstrong up to his students as a model of perseverance. Armstrong, the five-time Tour de France winner, is just as well known as a cancer spokesperson and a cancer survivor. Before his own recovery was certain, Armstrong created the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which seeks to enhance the quality of life for people struggling with and overcoming cancer. “He gives people hope,” Klein says.

Klein is a survivor in his own right, having spent seven weeks in recovery after being struck by a van while cycling across a crosswalk on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail almost a year ago. Friend and cycling partner Mike Armellino was with Klein during the accident and gave him encouragement during his rehabilitation. Armellino suggested they join Trek Travel on a ride through the Pyrenees, Bordeaux, and Paris during the final week of the Tour de France, which marked its 100th anniversary this year. Klein took Armellino up on his suggestion. “The tour is a cyclist’s paradise,” says Klein.

Their tour started in the Pyrenees and included the upward slope of the Col de Tourmalet (which literally translates to bad route), a grueling 10 percent gradient. They covered distances ranging from 30 to 90 miles per day–a bit more exhausting than one’s typical vacation. “There’s a purity to cycling because it’s hard, it’s painful. That purity makes it worthwhile,” Klein says.

The riders on the tour grew close to on another in France. One rider Klein notes in particular was Kim Dugan of Baltimore. Dugan, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, also rode with Klein during the Tour of Hope. “She’s also a hero,” Klein says.

“Next to having my two sons, the Trek Travel tour is the best thing I ever did,” Klein says. He will be returning next year and is encouraging his sons to come along.

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